Bluegrass music may be one of America’s “traditional” styles, but at its heart it has always been wild and spontaneous. The style demands every ounce of facility and intent that each performer can muster— it fires on all cylinders or none at all. Few bands do it as well as East Nash Grass. An ensemble of standout players from a city known for the quality of its musicians, East Nash Grass came by its name and reputation honestly, honing their performance chops night after night on a tiny stage on Music City’s east side. Even now having played many of the biggest stages in bluegrass, East Nash Grass can still be found every Monday night performing in that same east side bar. Dedication to a group’s roots and a commitment to hard work are earmarks of great Nashville bands of all kinds, and East Nash Grass exemplifies what it means to be a bluegrass band from Nashville.
The band that would become East Nash Grass began to take shape by chance, as a weekly bluegrass night at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge. The gig leadership changed hands and players came and went over several years, and what started as a loose collection of pickers gradually solidified into a committed group of dedicated bandmates. They quickly became one of the top young bands in bluegrass music, whose members have been highly sought-after as side musicians for the genre’s top stars and hottest bands. Today, whether it’s bluegrass Monday at Dee’s, or the hallowed stage of the Ryman Auditorium, East Nash Grass brings swagger, staggering abilities, and high energy to every performance.
It’s natural to assume that a band born in a bar would be willing to take risks, and in the case of East Nash Grass, you’d be right. Like birds in a flock, each keenly aware of one another’s every move, the pickers in East Nash Grass fly in tight formation, no matter the twists and turns the moment demands. Their incredible skill as an ensemble makes it look easy, and their chemistry makes it fun to watch. Bluegrass music tends to fall on a spectrum. On one end is the rough-and-tumble, high-energy style exemplified by the pioneers of the genre. On the other is a highly polished studio-ready approach, one in which each note is executed with clinical perfection. It’s not easy to balance such precision while being musically joyful and in the moment, but East Nash Grass does it, staking its position squarely in the middle of this spectrum, executing at the highest levels of proficiency with a sense of ease and humor that only comes from hundreds of hours making music together.
This event is brought to you by the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention Steering Committee, the Livingston Concert/Lecture Series, and Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area, with funding made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts, a federal agency.